What is the real point of disagreement? (was re:GUNS)

James Ganong (JGanong@webtv.net)
Sun, 6 Jun 1999 04:16:10 -0700 (PDT)

I think I might have found a way in which the current gun flamewar differs from others that have gone before.

All the major contributors to the war are gun owners, so the possession of firearms isn't the core issue. The main proposition by one side is that gun ownership should be available to all but a few classes of person that demonstrably (by a history of physically violent acts against others) or presumably (by being below some legal
age or by virtue of a clear mental defect) lack the capacity for reasonable self-restraint.

The main proposition by the opposing side seems to be that there exist no means by which these restrictions, however inherently desirable & reasonable they might seem at first glance, could be put
into effect without falling prey to a system of politics which would pervert this set of
restrictions to pander to special interest groups, &/or possibly use the restrictions
as an excuse to expand the list of people to include political undesirables.

Do these seem to be reasonable summaries of the positions of both sides in the debate, to those main proponents of each view? If not, please email me
**OFFLIST** so that we might arrive at a mutually agreeable, nonprejudicial &,
above all, brief(!) statement of your main position in this discussion.

As to the point of these summaries & requests for clarity:

It is one of the main tenets of this list that application of rational thought is the best technique our species has evolved for problem solving. It is another tenet that the best solutions to problems are often arrived at via grassroots level efforts as an example of spontaneous order thru free association of rational individuals.

Many of us have been acting less than rationally regarding this thread. The impulse to ignore it til it dies out again is strong, but cowardly in light of the high
principles we would seem to hold in describing ourselves as extropians &/or
transhumans. I would like
to propose
that we try to resolve the following:

Given that there are/may be individuals
who, by demonstration or presumption,
cannot be trusted with firearms, how can an open, free society deal effectively with
such individuals without infringing the rights of *any* other individual who might choose to carry firearms?

To make my standards clear, I state the following definitions & guidelines:

those demonstrably unfit to carry are any individual initiating physical violence against another human; this would include threat displays against private property such as malicious vandalism.

those presumably unfit to carry are those below a certain age (what that age should be is open to debate) or found to be suffering from severe psychotic disorders
by the best medical judgement of the day

standard netiquette should be observed
(no profanity or insults)

proposed solutions should rely as much as possible on existing resources, infrastructure,etc.

I realise that this proposal might smack of hubris, but I think we need to be true to our principles by testing them every so often. If there are clear signs that this topic is unwelcome on the list (by the moderators &/or a number of subscribers, say, 10 requests) I am willing to go private or, if enough people are interested, to start a separate list or move to an existing one more suitable. I hope the discussion can stay here, as I think we are up to it.

Questions/comments/requests to shut up
should be directed to me privately; otherwise, what can we do to resolve the question offered for debate?

James Ganong